Central Ohio Garden Notes and Weather Predictions Mid-Summer 2018

The one and three month temperature and precipitation projections for weather in central Ohio call for increased chances of above average temperatures and near normal precipitation.  This is favorable for maturation of vegetables planted to take advantage of the fall growing season.  The fall vegetable timeline indicates that right now is a good time to plant another round of multiple vegetables including cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, peas and potatoes.  Keep in mind when planting potatoes, the flowering occurs before formation of the potatoes under the ground.  This means that if the weather turns colder at night and the producer wishes to prevent frost damage to the leaves, a row cover can be applied without worry about inhibiting pollinators.

I gave an update on the ENSO/El Nino phenomenon last month in Growing Franklin.  An update was posted on NOAA/NWS recently that has upgraded the chances for fall to 65% and for winter to 70%.  El Nino winters in central Ohio have an increased chance of warmer weather.  This is important for planning for over wintered vegetables under season extension as well as timing of cover crop plantings.

There are three classes upcoming on the west, south and east sides of Columbus that address winter cover crop selection and season extension:


Season Extension methods can be used in summer as well as to protect plantings from cold in cooler months.  CLICK HERE for a link to Using Shade Fabric for Summer Season Extension of Cold Weather Crops. 


Multiple problems have been reported by central Ohio growers regarding cucurbit family crops, specifically summer squash and cucumbers.  Powdery mildew has become widespread in the area recently, showing up as white patches on the cucurbit leaves.


These patches can eventually cover the entire leaf surface.  They are not generally fatal to the plant, but can kill the leaves, weaken the plant, and decrease plant productivity.

CLICK Here for OSU Veggie Disease LINK for Powdery Mildew on Cucurbits.


Another problem noted in cucurbits is squash bug nymphs are hatching from egg clusters laid recently and are approaching infestation levels on many plantings.

The adult was disturbed in the act of laying these eggs prior to the picture being taken. Eggs darken in color after being laid.


Extremely large numbers of nymphs are commonly noted. Feeding damage to leaf is evident


Do not let large numbers of squash bugs reach infestation levels trying to ripen a last, small amount of cucumbers or zucchini.  Eliminating the infested plantings, not composting, can remove large amounts of squash bugs now to decrease the burden faced by fall planted cucurbits.  Take care to factor in impacts to pollinators if pesticides are being considered for control.

Squash Bug Fact Sheet – Organic Systems

Squash Bug Fact Sheet – Penn State








Summer Season Extension Using Shade Fabric for Cool Weather Crops

Season Extension is when a vegetable, herb or fruit is grown outside its normal growing season using protection from the elements in some way.  While it is most commonly used over the winter to take advantage of Ohio’s four seasons of growing, it is also applicable in summer when growing vegetables that prefer cooler weather.  A part of the community garden plot opened up after cucurbit production decreased from cucumber beetle damage and bacterial wilt.

Was planted with zucchini and cucumbers from mid-May until late July


The plasticulture fabric was removed, the soil was amended with slow release granular fertilizer and compost, It was then planted with lettuce and pac choi cabbage transplants that had been started under the lights 3 weeks ago.  The cucurbits were productive heavy feeders  so extra fertility was needed, especially in the form of nitrogen, and crop rotation was observed among different vegetable families.

The wood form is 4′ x 8′ in size and 4″ high tall made of untreated wood. The PVC is 1/2″ in diameter and sleeved onto screws. This allows easy use of season extension in a defined space that keeps the fabric off the plants, but is very stable to the elements.


The raised bed form was then covered with shade fabric. This fabric is designed to allow light, air, and water to pass through, but to decrease the amount of sunlight and provide shade to the cooler temperature season lettuce and cabbage during the August maturation period.  Multiple other vegetable crops could be grown with this method including radishes, spinach, arugula and other small brassicas.

30% sunlight reduction shade fabric.  In most cases this fabric should be vented  to allow air movement and prevent heat buildup under the fabric.   It is shown closed in this picture to prevent small mammal feeding damage overnight, but will be clipped part way up the PVC tubing during the day normally.

This fabric will provide protection from the cabbage white butterfly and its associated larval form that feeds heavily on the foliage of brassica family crops.   This means it also will not allow pollinators to enter the space if it is kept fully closed.  This is not a concern as both the lettuce and cabbage will be harvested before they flower and produce seed and have no need for pollinators.

There are two classes upcoming that will address season extension for the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer.

Make sure to incorporate season extension methods when making your garden plan.  Ohio is a true four season growing environment and with some planning and using season extension, harvest can be achieved all year long.

Winter Cover Crops and Season Extension at Wallace Community Garden on Tuesday September 11th at 6:30pm

There will be a class on using winter cover crops as well as season extension techniques with low tunnels to keep your garden growing over the colder months.  The class will start in the McKinley Field Shelter House and then finish next door at Wallace Community Garden.  The class is free and open to the public.

Click here for printable flyer –> GV Wallace Winter Cover and Season Ext

Summer Garden Walk @ Howard Recreation Center on Monday July 23rd, 2018

There will be a summer garden walk at the community garden behind Howard Rec Center on Monday July 23rd at 6:30 pm.  Come to see what is growing and discuss concerns about pests, weeds, diseases, varietal selection, fall planting, soil health and more.  The event is free and open to the public.

2018 Master Urban Farmer Workshop Series

Master Urban Farmer Workshop Series

Registration is now open for the 2018 Master Urban Farmer Workshop Series.  This 11 week course is designed to help individuals learn how to produce and market all kinds of food products in an urban environment, so that they can develop urban farms or food based businesses.  A complete list of course topics is listed on the brochure at this link.

Registration is required by August 15, although the class typically sells out before the registration deadline.  To register, go to: go.osu.edu/MUF2018.

CLICK HERE to download and print brochure to register

2018 Fall Vegetable Planting Timeline

It can be an unusual concept for the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer to think about as we have barely started harvest of fresh tomatoes, but now is the time to start planning and planting for production in late summer, through fall and into a winter harvest.

Things to start now: Under the lights

  • Basil – Start from seed under the lights or by direct seeding into the garden.  This will provide the grower with a stream of fresh, tender leaves to use or preserve.
  • Brassicas – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and asian cabbages can be started now under the lights.  Transplant into cell packs after about two weeks in the flats.   They will be ready to transplant into the garden in 6-8 weeks.
  • Lettuce – small amount now,  start more every two weeks until October.

The seed start grow station had been taken offline for a period of three weeks after spring vegetable production. This was done to sterilize the area and break the life cycle of any pests present.


Most of the varieties started now are brassicas. They will germinate in 3 days, be ready to be transplanted into individual cells in 2 weeks and be ready to plant in about 6 weeks total. That puts them in the garden in early August with maturation in late September and early October during the cooler weather


A small amount of lettuce will be started now.  This lettuce has a good chance to mature in hot weather.   The chance for cooler temperatures in late summer plus the use of shade cloth will attempt to control bitterness or bolting to seed.  There is a good chance of failure to mature an edible product so only a small amount of starts will be attempted now.  More will be started with an every two week timeline.



Things to Start now – Direct seed in the garden:


Things to start in a few weeks – Direct Seed in the Garden

  • Green Beans – if a short maturing variety can be used green beans can be planted up until early August
  • Radish – can plant again 2 weeks after this planting up until September 1st
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce – can be planted on two week rotations until September 1st – 15th.
  • Snap Peas
  • Summer squash – same as with green beans
  • Cucumber – same as with green beans


Ohio is a true four season growing environment.  Some of the above may need season extension in order to survive.  We will keep a close watch on the ENSO predictions.   Make sure that you observe crop rotation of families as best as possible.